Mario’s 35th Anniversary: Was it Worthy of Mario?

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Mason Hardy

On September 3, 2020, a Nintendo Direct video dropped out of nowhere on Twitter. The 16-minute video revealed Nintendo’s plans for the celebration of Mario’s 35th anniversary.

The world-famous portly plumber captured the hearts of millions on the Nintendo Entertainment System’s “Super Mario Bros.” in 1985. Featured in over 200 video games, spanning many genres, it is no surprise that Mario is one of the world’s most popular video game characters of all time, and deserves a grand celebration. 

What was announced?

Speculation circled the internet for months before the surprise Nintendo Direct about some sort of anniversary collection of 3D Super Mario titles. People hoped for a complete graphical remake

The Game & Watch is a cool-looking piece of hardware! I can’t lie, I bought this in a heartbeat, it was just too cute to resist!

of “Super Mario 64”, but the Direct confirmed the “Super Mario 3D All-Stars” collection only included a port, not a remake of the game. The collection released a few weeks after the Direct, on September 18, and had three 3D Mario games, “Super Mario 64”, “Super Mario Sunshine” and “Super Mario Galaxy”. Being able to play these iconic games on one platform has been a dream come true! Strangely, the compilation is a timed release, with copies only being available until March 31, 2021. This date will show up again and again during the anniversary celebration.

In the Direct, we also saw the announcement of “Super Mario 35”, a Mario battle royale similar to “Tetris 99”, where the last Mario standing wins. This game is also a limited-time release and will be removed from the eShop on March 31, 2021. A shame, because I’ve had so much fun with it!

The Direct also revealed a legacy Game & Watch console, which includes the original “Super Mario Bros.”, “Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levelsand “Ball”The gold-colored system feels great in my hands, even if the button placement is a bit low. The games feel great, and the Lost Levels are just as difficult as I remember.

“Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit” is probably the biggest surprise to come from the Direct. Home Circuit comes with an RC kart with either Mario or Luigi, which drive around a track the player creates, all shown off with AR technology on the TV screen. Keep your living space in mind when considering buying this one, since it takes up a lot of space.

Bowser Jr. comes along to help Mario out! Oh, and did I mention that the Godzilla-looking Fury Bowser attacks you randomly?

The last announcement of the 35th anniversary celebration was “Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury”, a port of the popular Wii U title, but with some new content. The brand-new “Bowser’s Fury” mode was surprising, and the most attractive part of this release, since it is brand new content to an otherwise re-released game. There is so much value here since Nintendo hardly ever compiles games together into one package. Bowser’s Fury’s gameplay feels like a cross between the 2D/3D gameplay of 3D World, and Odyssey’s platforming.

 

Other smaller announcements included:

  • A collaboration with Puma, BlackMilk, and Levis for some Mario-themed clothing.
  • The release of the original “Super Mario All-stars” on the SNES Online app.
  • A “Splatoon” splatfest featuring teams Mushroom and Power Star.
  • A “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” tournament.

So, What’s up with March 31?

The internet has adopted this day as “The Death of Mario”. Both 3D All-Stars and Mario 35 will be taken down from the eShop and store shelves. It’s a shame to see such a great collection of games be shut away and put behind a time limit. My guess is by making them timed releases, sales have been much higher in a shorter span of time. March 31 marks the end of the fiscal year for Nintendo, so I’m sure that plays a role in the timing of these limited releases.

There is speculation surrounding the dreaded March 31 date, such as an upgraded Switch or a new iteration of “Mario 35”.  I would love to see a revamped “Mario 35” and even a separation of the 3D Mario games into separate sales on the eShop so people can still play them in some capacity.

Was this a celebration worthy of Mario?

For the most part, yes! Bowser’s Fury has been so fun to play, and revisiting 3D World has been a great time. But as exciting as it has been to be able to easily replay the 3D Mario games, I can’t help but wonder, where is “Super Mario Galaxy 2”? It’s a bummer that one of the most popular 3D Mario games isn’t being celebrated along with the other three.

Three fantastic games on one cartridge, what more could you ask for? Besides Galaxy 2…

People hoped for that rumored remake of “Super Mario 64”, but Nintendo must have known that people would purchase the collection even without the complete remastered treatment, and even without Galaxy 2, just because of how popular Mario is. All this being said, the games are upscaled enough to maintain wonderful visuals, and make me feel like a kid again playing through them.

“Super Mario 35” has so much potential, but feels stagnant at times. Anyone who has played knows just how often you’ll be running world 1-1 and 1-2, at least at first. After playing for a few hours, you come across more skilled players and the level diversity increases. It would be great to see some tweaks to make it less repetitive, or include a “Super Mario Bros. 3” or “Super Mario World” mode. 

The other collaborations and peripherals to the 35th anniversary feel like they have fallen by the wayside. I completely missed the Smash Ultimate tournament, even though I love Smash. The Splatfest convinced me to pick up “Splatoon 2” again after almost a year, but I quickly put it down again. The clothing collaborations were unique, but weren’t really for me. 

Verdict

Overall, the 35th anniversary of Mario has been such a great trip down memory lane. Even with the critiques I have for this celebration, Nintendo delivered plenty of Mario content, and some collector items for more deeply rooted fans like me to enjoy. Being able to celebrate the legacy of Mario and revisit Mushroom Kingdom in more than a few ways makes this feel like a true celebration.